Devonshire Cream in a Crockpot

Devonshire Cream – in a Crockpot

First a warning: this recipe does not meet food safety standards anywhere. This recipe is provided for entertainment purposes only.*
This version is based loosely on Episode 9 of BBC’s Edwardian Farm in a segment called “Devon County Dairy Board School.” Cooking the cream over milk instead of separating makes this Farmhouse style Devonshire Cream.
Traditionally Devonshire cream is cooked “on the back of the stove” meaning long time and low temperature. An old caution is “if it boils, it spoils.”
Place raw milk, still warm from the cow in a Crockpot with a ceramic liner.
Adding culture is optional. Gently mix in one ounce of Flor Danica prepared culture or 1/8th teaspoon of Flor Danica DVI culture powder per gallon of milk. Do not over-stir.

Devonshire cream on skimmer.
After hours of cooking cream is thick and dark – and buttery-creamy delicious.

Allow milk to sit undisturbed for 12 to 24 hours at room temperature. This allows the cream to rise and the bacteria to grow. Wait until your cream layer appears thick.
Turn the Crockpot to the setting required to maintain a temperature between 175o and 195o F. Cook uncovered. Do NOT stir. Do NOT allow to boil. After many hours, 8 in my attempt, the cream’s surface will have a wavy texture, and a buttery color, the edges will have a light brown tinge.
Turn off heat. Allow cream and milk to cool thoroughly – several hours or overnight. Do NOT cover.
Using a skimmer, gently lift sections of the cream layer off the surface of the milk. Allow any excess milk to drip off before gently sliding the rounds of cream into a stack in a small glass dish.
Chill thoroughly (several hours or overnight). Serve traditionally at your next “Cream Tea” over sliced strawberries (or jam) and plain biscuits (rounds or scones).
*DISCLAIMER: The State of Virginia’s Health Department believes if you eat this you are going to die. I didn’t even ask. So, if you do, it’s not my fault.

Jerky is better than Cookies

The holidays are coming and the kitchen smells like garlic and fennel. It is time to make jerky.

What’s the main ingredient? Beef, of course.  I am typically a fan of lots of nice, flavorful fat in meat, but fatty jerky means a mess in the dehydrator and oily face and fingers later. I used ground beef for this batch. It’s quick to mix and using an extruder means I can make uniform tubes of meat that dry evenly.

I’d be uncomfortable serving ground meat that is not ground locally and raised on pasture. I like single-animal foods, not a mixture of thousands of animals I’ve never met. Jerky in a dehydrator barely reaches high enough internal temperature to be considered cooked and may do so very slowly. It seems only prudent to begin with the safest product possible.

I had a few select roasts cut from a hindquarter, but most of the hindquarter was ground. I think the forequarter is most tender and the hindquarter is more flavorful. Gristle – nasty connective tissue does not become edible through grinding. Be picky! When in doubt put trimmings in the dog pile. I am a fan of fat for flavor, but for jerky ground meat with no added fat avoids a mess in the dehydrator.

meat and spices being blendedRaw beef

Preservatives can be a scary idea, nitrates and nitrites sound dangerous. I used to avoid them. Many preserved meat products that lack added nitrites contain celery seed, which contains naturally occurring nitrites. So, I only know enough to tell you that you need to decide for yourself, and my choice of celery seed is about convenience and flavor. The time that the meat is most vulnerable to bacterial growth is while the seasonings are being mixed in, the jerky is being extruded and before the temperature rises. Work cold and work quickly. Clean surfaces, clean tools, gloves are a nice touch. If your dehydrator is slow to warm you can make jerky in a low oven.

Better than Chocolate Beef Jerky

2 pounds lean ground Milking Devon beef
1 Tablespoon Black Pepper
1 Tablespoon Fennel Seed
1 Tablespoon Sugar
1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Sea Salt finely ground
1 teaspoon Celery seed
1 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1 teaspoon Thyme

Grind spices together until finely powdered. An electric coffee grinder is ideal.

2 Tablespoons Low-Sodium Soy Sauce
2 Tablespoons Worchestershire Sauce
2 teaspoons Liquid Smoke

Mix all ingredients, an electric mixer with a paddle works well.

Using a jerky press or extruder pipe spirals of meat onto dehydrator shelves covered with parchment paper or silicone sheets.

Dry at 145 to 165oF for 8 to 12 hours or until dark and rubbery, turning once after 2 hours.

Refrigerated storage is recommended.

How Much Milk Does a Milking Devon Milk if a Milking Devon Milks once a day.

Lately, I’ve been milking once a week more often than once a day because I’ve been traveling so much. this is mostly a recycled post from a few years ago. I’ve changed some practices and beliefs based on conversations with other dairy-people.

I make decisions based on keeping the Devons happy and healthy for productive lives of 16 to 20 years, and also to keep my schedule as flexible as possible.


The bull is generally in the field with the cows and calves. The temperament of the Milking Devon bulls raised in a herd isn’t aggressive. At HineSite Farm calves will be born spread from spring to fall. The staggered birthdays make it harder to pair up same-sex teams to grow into oxen, but it’s easier to find time to work with calves and first fresheners (first-time moms) – and to deal with all the milk.

So, how much milk does a Milking Devon milk if a Milking Devon gets milked once a day?

It depends on several factors.

Stage of lactation (how many weeks or months the cow has been giving milk) is a big deal, cows’ milk production peaks about 8 weeks “fresh” meaning after calving. Very young calves don’t drink as much or as fast as older calves, but they do best when they get milk more often. Right after giving birth the momma-cow makes a special milk called colostrum that gives passive antibodies to the calf. When the regular milk starts and the colostrum is all consumed, I often get close to 2 gallons per milking.

Later in lactation, the babies are separated from the moms for half a day. “Half a day” can be anywhere from 6 to 14 hours. I am so glad Devons have not heard that milking must be at rigid times and equal intervals, that just couldn’t happen here.

The yield varies with the number of hours of separation – and whether the baby just had a big meal before I separated. Somedays barely 1/2 gallon per cow – other days over a gallon from the same cow.


Another factor in milk production is diet. Forage – grass and hay and occasional vegetables make up the cows’ diet. I sometimes add alfalfa in the form of pellets, hay or silage. (I do use a dairy pellet if I am feeding young calves that don’t have fully developed rumens. Milk production in most cows is limited by their diet. Some cows are unable to slow their production to protect themselves from loss of body condition through milk production. Cows like that have to be fed concentrated feeds to remain healthy. Fortunately, the Milking Devon still has the ability to match her production to her diet.


Can a cow be an ox? Can an ox be a cow?

What is an ox? Everyone seems to agree that it is a mature bovine trained to pull loads. There is some disagreement in the English speaking world about whether oxen must be male. Whether the word means only male or any working bovine shouldn’t be the point.

My friends in Spain work bulls more often than steers.

According to Paul Starkey of, globally there are more female working animals than male.

Most of the draft animal using world doesn’t speak English anyway.

To avoid controversy I have made up a new term. I like Ux taurus – the bull’s wife.

If Latin isn’t your thing, the term handy cow is a good description.


Cows are multi-use. The same cow that I milk can be used for draft work. A German study has shown that 4 hours or less of work per day does not have a significant effect on milk production. Cows should have some rest time before and after calving. I have very little time to work train animals. I could not justify keeping animals that didn’t produce in a way beyond their work.

For me the biggest drawback to training heifers is about the time a team is about to be useful i end up selling one or both for breeding.

HineSite – I should have done this years ago.

Milking Devon cow Lark and Kendy Sawyer in stall at Western NC Agricultural Center. Mother Earth News Fair 2015

The farm is called HineSite partly as a wordplay on husband Bob’s last name and as an acknowledgment that I learn primarily from making mistakes. I have learned a lot in the last few years, fortunately not all through personal experience.